Terrell Watson Could Earn More Short-Yardage Work With Continued Success

Despite the fact that running back Le’Veon Bell was the featured player for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense during yesterday’s game, he was not the only running back who got work. James Conner, in fact, saw a handful of snaps, and even got four carries, in part during a stint during which Bell was getting looked at on the sideline.

But the most notable appearance of another running back in the game was the one snap seen by first-year former undrafted free agent Terrell Watson, who for the second time in as many weeks was given a carry on third and one, and who for the second time managed to convert.

The big back out of Azusa Pacific made a name for himself in short-yardage scenarios during the summer, earning the nickname ‘Nightmare’ from Mike Tomlin—in reference to Christian Okoye, the “Nigerian Nightmare” who also came out of Azusa Pacific.

During one of the Steelers’ goal-line sessions, the offense was struggling in the seven shots drill. Through four shots, the defense was up 3-1, but Tomlin put Watson into the lineup and he converted for scores on three consecutive plays.

Similar to how Isaac ‘Red Zone’ Redman first drew attention to himself in Steelers camp several years back, that was the moment that many started taking note of Watson and of the potential that he could have.

Though he did actually spend a little bit of time on the Eagles’ 53-man roster last year, this is going to be his first accrued season, and he is already serving as one of the team’s primary kick returners and logging 15 to 20 snaps on special teams on a weekly basis.

Last week, he got the first snap of the season on offense outside of the victory formation, checking in for the carry as Bell checked out for third and one, and they gave him the ball. He converted with a three-yard gain.

Yesterday, on the Steelers’ opening drive, in fact, they got into a third and one situation, right after Bell ran off a nine-yard run, and Watson checked in again. He converted, again, plowing up the gut for the one yard needed for a new set of downs.

The big back has two carries on the season for four yards, but context shows that both of them were successful plays for the offense. And one wonders if he isn’t going to carve out a niche for himself in this short-yardage role.

Though there is evidence to the contrary, of course. Over the course of the past three games, the Steelers have had first or second and goal from the one-yard line. Bell has stayed in for those snaps and scored all three times. He also was given the ball on third and four late in the game and converted.

But after two successful cameos, Watson is putting his name out there as an option, and that is all you can ask of your third-string running back.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • The Big Cheese

    At 35 touches a game, LeVeon will have another 400 plus in the 12 remaining weeks, then more in the playoffs. Some of that workload needs to be distributed to Connor and Watson. Otherwise, Bell is pretty much guaranteed to be worn out, injured or both.

  • Thomas

    Good to see Bell back to his old ways, I was getting a bit worried. Conner looked really good too.

  • NCSteel

    Yes, Bell needs to be spelled to keep him fresh for the latter part of the season and post season.
    However…when you have the best RB in the league (arguably),
    The idea of taking him out of the game when you need one yard and bringing in a “specialist” sounds suspect to me.
    I will say this though, I have not seen Watson take any play off this season or pre-season. The man runs aggressive like he’s starving and theres a full Thanksgiving table a few yards ahead of him.
    Love the passion he shows.

  • Chris92021

    I think what we saw yesterday will be the game plan on the road, minimize the risks by running the ball, win the time of possession, and grind out victories. At home, I am betting we will air it out more. We will see if this theory is correct next Sunday.

  • Dennis Nevinsky

    If Bell leave after this season there will be quality backs to take his place.

  • Ed Smith

    Some times, just running down someone’s throat is the best option at times. That’s where Watson may be a “better” option in some situations than a Bell. His style depends on a hole eventually opening up. Sometimes it doesn’t and you have to move it. Watson has shown he can move a pile.

  • Steve

    Run Bell till the wheels fall off.

  • Steve

    Pass the Turkey “PLEASE”!

  • colingrant

    Reminds me of Redmond, the short yardage specialist from a few years back, with more power. He of the legendary catch and run in Baltimore a few years back. Watson has a take-no-prisoners running style. Once he sees defenders between him and daylight, he just lowers his pad level and seems to have the philosophy, be the hammer, not the nail. He approaches a pile of would be tacklers with accelerating power and destruction. Guy doesn’t play around with a ball in his hands.

  • Rusted Out

    Wasn’t it good to see a nice mix? Use that stable of backs Haley! Every time they switched up RB’s, they seemed to break one. Was so good to finally run the ball effectively, against Baltimore, in their house.

  • dany

    First game he was actually producing like Bell, I understand why they kept feeding him. If it becomes a pattern and Conner is healthy, I’ll be concerned

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Conner needs more carries.

  • walter

    its good to see we have backups at RB. I remember a time we only had Dri Archer and we had to go out and get Tate.